When Chuck Pagano succeeded Greg Mattison as defensive coordinator in January, Pagano made no attempt to hide his objective to have the unit return to its aggressive, blitz-happy roots.
Through four weeks, the Ravens have seemingly carried out Pagano’s wishes. The defense trails only the Tennessee Titans' for fewest points allowed at 14.3 per game. (The Titans have surrendered 14.0 points per contest.)
The Ravens rank third in the NFL in rush defense (an average of 72.5 yards) and are tied for seventh against the pass (212). They rank third in total yards allowed (284.5 per game). The unit has caused an NFL-best 14 turnovers and is tied for eighth in sacks with 11.
After the defense scored a franchise-first three touchdowns in Sunday night’s 34-17 win against the New York Jets, inside linebacker Ray Lewis funneled some of the credit to Pagano.
“He’s not afraid of anything,” Lewis said. “We learned some personal stuff about him a long time ago that makes us realize he’s never going to be afraid of anything. The biggest credit to Chuck is the trust he has in his players. When you’re on the field, you can actually see how he works with us and the conversations we have in and out. It’s just a beautiful part of working for him.”
While cautioning against applying any labels to the defense’s performances, coach John Harbaugh also praised Pagano.
“Chuck has obviously done a great job,” Harbaugh said during his weekly news conference Monday. “All the defensive coaches have. And I’m proud of those guys and what they’ve accomplished across the board. Those guys played last night in just the way you want to see them play. It was fast, it was aggressive, it was physical, it was with abandon. Yet, it was with great discipline and attention to detail. To me, those are the things that make for great defense.”